Regional Focus: North

Relevance is key for Liverpool Echo

Liverpool: docks
Liverpool: docks

Founded in 1879, the Liverpool Echo is as grounded in Liverpudlian history as the Albert Dock.

Published by Trinity Mirror, the evening newspaper now has a Monday to Saturday circulation of 102,000, with a tabloid format that covers local news, sport and features.

PMW PR executive Samantha Tanner says that the news team is generally very approachable if you make it clear who you are and where you’re from.

‘The editorial team like it if you call up first and tell them about the release you are sending through and mention who the client is. If it’s something that the newspaper usually deals with, they will print it.’

Greenrow PR’s Carly Thornton says: ‘With a paper like the Liverpool Echo, it is obviously very important to have a local story. A lot of news can be quite gloomy, so it helps if you have a story that is going to present a positive image of Liverpool.’

Thornton recently app-roached the Liverpool Echo for a business profile on North West opticians Conlons, which was about to open a new Liverpool store. She spoke to Neil Hodgson on the business desk and pitched the idea of a meeting with CEO

Peter Barton to discuss the heritage of the store. She also offered him a chance to visit the store itself.

‘In the current financial climate, he was keen to have a positive business story,’ says Thornton.

London-based agency Eulogy handles the Hard Days Night Hotel, the Beatles-themed boutique hotel in Liverpool, so has had many dealings with the newspaper. Associate director Jonny Lockwood advises PROs outside Liverpool to get to know the city, make sure that the story is 100 per cent relevant for the publication and to forge good relationships with the journalists.

He also advises PROs to start early with photocalls. To make the first edition, they should take place by 9am.

Stripe Communications MD Denise Mullen has been carrying out a case study campaign for the city’s Walton Centre, the UK’s only stand-alone neurosciences and neurosurgery hospital.

‘We deliberately focused on medical firsts and improved treatments, found the most receptive health-interested journalists and targeted them with relevant local information. We talk to the journalist with a synopsis first, take on board what specifics they may like to see, and then tailor to fit,’ she explains.

‘For pure news targeted at the Echo, it’s simply a question of getting a cracking story, knowing the publication and what it chooses to support or the issues it campaigns on, and making sure it all fits. It’s all about knowing the patch and understanding the balance of content.’

Quick facts

Frequency Daily, Monday to Saturday
Circulation 102,488

Editor Alastair Machray 0151 472 2507
Deputy editor Andrew Campbell 0151 472 2343;
News editor Maria Breslin 0151 472 2488/2401;
Business editor Neil Hodgson 0151 472 2451


spotlight on a story Newcastle Building Society looks after its community

Newcastle Building Society is the 12th largest building society in the UK and the largest to be based in the North East of England. It remains one of the strongest mutual building societies in the country with assets of more than £4.8bn.

As a traditional mutual building society, Newcastle aims to give something back to the local community. One of the key aims of the PR team is to ensure that the Newcastle is perceived as such in the media.

The society donates to a wide range of causes, and focuses the majority of its efforts on the North East. Run in conjunction with the Evening Chronicle, its recent Wish campaign gave £25,000 to clubs, schools, charities and organisations across the region.

The PR team uses Durrants to help it keep tabs on the campaign’s effectiveness. It found there was a 54 per cent increase in coverage in September from August with 41 per cent of this related to the Wish campaign. This increase provided positive coverage about the building society at a time when the economic downturn meant most stories about the finance sector were negative. This favourable coverage has continued throughout October and November.

top local businesses BASF, JJB, HBOS, Pace

The world’s largest chemical company runs its UK and Ireland operations from its Cheadle headquarters. The company recently announced it would shed 1,000 staff after its third-quarter operating earnings fell eight per cent and net profit by 37 per cent. The company does not use any external agencies in the UK.
Contact Chris Wilson, external communications manager, on 0161 485 6222

JJB Sports
The UK’s largest sporting-goods chain has about 430 stores in the UK and Ireland, and has its headquarters in Wigan. The company is battling a deflated share price and a dispute over an alleged breach of a £15m banking covenant. It plans to roll out a range of low-cost fitness clubs during 2009.
JJB uses Cheshire-based Mere PR for consumer PR and Maitland for financial comms.
Contact Lynn Deegan,
media and PR manager, on 01942 221400

HBOS Insurance and Investment
Based in Halifax, HBOS offers investment services such as professional financial planning and stock and asset management and its insurance arm underwrites and administers a variety of general insurance policies. Facing a takeover by Lloyds, HBOS has pulled in Brunswick to work on the deal.
Contact Carol Wright, head of communications, on 0870 600 5000

Shipley-based manufacturer of set-top boxes for the pay TV market. The company markets its products worldwide to customers such as BSkyB. Pace expects strong demand for digital TV to support its revenues through 2009.
Contact The press office on 01274 537093 or at


Media snapshot

Magazines and newspapers

Manchester Evening News
Circulation 161,545
Editor Paul Horrocks
Contact 0161 832 7200

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle)
Circulation 71,878
Editor Paul Robertson
Contact 0191 232 7500


BBC Radio Leeds
Found on 92.4FM
Managing editor Phil Roberts
Contact 0113 244 2131

Radio City 96.7
Found on 96.7FM
Programme director Richard Maddock
Contact 0151 472 6800


BBC North
Head of regional and local programmes
Helen Thomas
Contact 0113 244 1188

ITV Tyne Tees
MD and controller of programmes Graeme Thompson
Contact 0844 881 5000

Frequency Updated 24 hours a day
Multimedia editor
Colin George
Contact 0191 201 6248;
Web hits 1.8m per month
Frequency Updated throughout the working day
Editor Paul Cockerton
Contact 01254 298217;


‘We’re getting on with it’

Karol Marketing and Staniforth Communications expect growth in the coming year

Karol Marketing

Managing consultant Stefan Lepkowski formed Newcastle’s Karol Marketingin 1992. Since then, it has become one of the top PR agencies in the North East.

Lepkowski says: ‘This past year has been very good in terms of consolidating our position. We should be close to £1m turnover this year.’

It has 15 employees looking after clients such as radio advertising company Get Carter Productions, food services company JR Holland and Newcastle University School. Account director Sujarda Sadanandan scooped this year’s PRide Awards trophy for young communicator of the year.

The agency recently launched a design team to support the PR function. ‘We found our PR clients had a requirement for a design element,’ says Lepkowski. Karol Marketing has also launched a public affairs and lobbying business.

‘We’re seen as being very creative but PA is a more sombre research-driven function. The two don’t sit very easy together,’ he says.

But he believes no-one else in the North East is geared up in this area – something of which he can take advantage. ‘There’s a big requirement to inform local councils on up-and-coming issues,’ he says.
The agency has also developed a tech division, headed by new recruit Nicola Williamson, who has joined from London’s Inferno.

Recent wins include Newcastle University School, which saw the agency embarking on a media relations campaign to blitz the local press.

The agency also worked on the launch of Global Star’s satellite messaging service. Karol also led the nationwide ‘cheesy dad’ campaign for Primula cheese spread.

‘I’d say we’re the biggest player in the North East in PR terms,’ says Lepkowski bullishly. ‘It’s good to hear people at the PRide Awards bandying around phrases like it’s grim down South. It seems there’s a lot of fear down there at the moment, whereas we’re all just getting on with it.’

At a glance

Three best campaigns of 2008 Global Star – satellite messaging service launch; Primula – Cheesy dads competition; Newcastle University School

Significant hires of 2008 Head of tech division, Nicola Williamson

Predicted fee income for 2008 £1m

Plans for the year ahead Further growth in public affairs and design practices


Staniforth Communications

Manchester-based Staniforth Communications is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, but that hasn’t stopped new MD Rob Brown, who joined the agency in April from McCann Ericsson, making changes.

‘The business traditionally had b2b and consumer divisions,’ says Brown. ‘We’re going to be refocusing the business through practice groups – food is a strong offer of ours as is financial services.’

With clients such as Marks & Spencer, Kelloggs, Norwich Union, Shell, English Partnerships, Nissan and Orangina, the agency sees itself as a national agency based in Manchester. It helps that as well as the 28 staff in the north, Staniforth also has a four-strong office in London.

‘Our last win was against Weber Shandwick and we’re currently on a shortlist with Hill & Knowlton. In terms of size, we know we’re not in the same league as them but we see ourselves as an alternative. Our cost-base is not that of a London agency – we can deliver value in a way they can’t.’

Such cost-effectiveness will stand the agency in good stead for the forthcoming recession, in which Staniforth – owned by the TBWA Group – is expecting a modest level of growth. The agency will continue to hire but is not planning any acquisitions. Particular areas for growth include public sector and social housing.

Staniforth came 43rd in PRWeek’s Top 150 PR Consultancies, with an estimated income of £5m in 2007.
The agency had a major win with Kelloggs earlier this year, which saw the agency promoting the company’s range of fibre products. The agency is also proud of its work in June to launch Häagen-Dazs’ new raspberry and meringue flavour with a big promotion at Wimbledon.

It also won French postal service La Poste, which hired Staniforth to handle PR around the acquisition of a UK postal service, achieving coverage in the Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph.

Brown is keen to promote the digital message within the agency. He adds that the agency wants to raise its profile outside the North West.

At a Glance

Three best campaigns of 2008 Kelloggs – raising the profile of fibre campaign; La Poste – acquisition of a UK company; Uswitch – cost of living

Significant hires of 2008 Rob Brown, managing director

Predicted fee income for 2008 Restricted by Sarbanes-Oxley

Plans for the year ahead Develop expertise in public sector and social housing; increase profile outside the North West

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